Jewish World Review April 21, 2004 / 30 Nissan, 5764
Jay D. Homnick
The doctor is not in
The global pediatric community announces the passing of that splendid humanitarian, Dr. Rantisi. Apparently, his bevy of seventy virgins grew tired of cooling their heels in the great waiting room in the sky. They were fortunate to find a commonality of interest with the Israel Defense Forces (of whom this writer is honored to be an active member), who dispatched him to their tender mercies. This sort of consensus is rare in the Middle East and is worthy of fervent commendation.
The Hebrew phrase comes to mind: "Hu halach limnuchosv'otanu azav la'anachos", literally "he went to his rest and left us to our groans"; I prefer my poetic rendition, "He is heavenward borne, leaving us yet here forlorn". Who will heal the children while the Doctor gambols with the sylphs? Who will ease their ills while he frivols with the nymphs?
I envision the outer office brimming with poor and needy orphans, the lame and the halt, eyes pleading pathetically for relief. If only the disciple of Hippocrates, the acolyte of Galen, the proselyte of Maimonides, will lay his loving hands on their wounds. Surely his gentleness will envelop all, sending the forces of evil scurrying into their lairs. Now his nurse emerges, a crestfallen cast to her sweet features, with the grim tidings. Alack, the holy man is gone. He has forsaken the hymns for the…. Er, you know what I mean.
But wait. In the selfsame bulletin, we hear of the execution of a ruthless mass murderer bearing the identical surname. This fiend went well beyond the easy rant of the demagogue. The blood on his hands is not the warm blood of the operating room but the cold blood of the killing fields. His beard was blue and his heart was black. He was dexterous only in the sinister.
He, too, had an eye for the plight of the child. His was the gleeful eye of the sadist. He relished the cry of the dying Jewish infant and he reveled in the pain he could inflict. No Jewish youth was safe from his menacing ministrations. He was committed to erasing the Israeli smile, extinguishing Jewish joy. What a striking anomaly, that the twin Rantisis, the merciful and the vicious, the lover and the hater, the hearty and the heartless, should meet their fate on the same breezy afternoon in April.
What is that you say? It is a canard? There was no virtuous brother? There was no alter ego, only the one stunted and altered ego? Just one ghoul donning angel wings in an eerie harlequinade? Under the turban was secreted the turbine. One killer posing as a healer Dr. White, with a syringe, in the dispensary.
Yes, it is time for us to get a clue. This is a people that has systematically unlearned the language of the heart. Even the white coat of the doctor has been reshaped into the white apron of the butcher.
Perhaps the Palestinian of the 70s was a candidate for peace; he still wore a human face. But the Palestinian of today, tutored by the Arafats and Yassins and Rantisis, has become a malevolent caricature of a man. Let him arrange the terms of his own fate safely behind his fence.
In Genesis (21:9), our mother Sarah saw the teenage Ishmael "playing" with the infant Isaac and goaded her warm-hearted husband into banishing him from their home. For millennia, commentators have puzzled over the nature of this mysterious "game" that earned eternal outsider status for the father of the Arabs.
Perhaps we can offer today a new theory. Perhaps he was playing Doctor.
JWR contributor Jay D. Homnick is the author of many books and essays on Jewish political and religious affairs. Comment by clicking here.
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06/16/03: Iraq and roll
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© 2003, Jay D. Homnick